Asami Nakamura is a Japanese mixed media abstract artist based in Vancouver, Canada. She aims to add an essence of serenity and tranquility through her artwork to collectors and audiences.
CB: As your art seems to blend both Japanese and Canadian influences, could you share more about how these cultures come together in your work?
My art focuses on themes of serenity and tranquility. Within these themes, I believe my use of colors is influenced by the inspiration I draw from the vast nature of Canada and the culture and nature of Japan. I haven’t consciously aimed to merge both cultures and their respective color palettes; instead, the colors I select naturally stem from the experiences I have gathered from living in these countries.
CB: What inspired the shift from food styling to painting, and how does your background in styling reflect in your art?
Asami Nakamura: I've always enjoyed creating things since I was a child, so working as a food stylist was a lot of fun. I was interested in healthy food when I was working as a food stylist in Japan. With this interest, I came to Vancouver, Canada, at the age of 25, aiming to broaden my knowledge in a field that was thriving at that time. While learning about food was enjoyable, a desire to draw that had been tucked away in my heart began to resurface gradually.
Personally, in Japan, I felt that few people purchased art, and making a career out of drawing seemed challenging, so I never seriously considered it. During the pandemic, when I lost my job, my husband encouraged me to pursue something I loved. Uncertain about the future, I decided to follow my passion so I wouldn't have regrets. Listening to my true desire led me to start drawing again, ultimately shaping my current profession. When working as a food stylist, I always considered placement and color to style food appealingly. I believe that experience has significantly influenced my current artwork. Having studied color theory in college, I feel it has also been put to good use.
CB: Could you share some early memories from your childhood that led you to have an interest in painting?
Asami Nakamura: When I was little, I always enjoyed creating things and would often gather flowers, leaves, and wood from nature to make various items. Following that inclination, I also liked drawing, and I had been frequently drawing pictures since I was about two years old. Recognizing my interest, my mother signed me up for an art class, initiating my journey into the world of painting.
CB: Growing up surrounded by nature must have been inspiring. How do these natural elements weave into your artwork?
Asami Nakamura: I think that I'm greatly influenced by colors and marks, as I use a wash technique for my artwork a lot. I am often inspired by the changing colors of leaves and wood patterns depending on the season, as well as the beauty of moss patterns, the gradient colors of the sky, and the shapes of clouds.
CB: Could you walk us through a bit of your creative process and how to approach a project from start to finish?
Asami Nakamura: First, I pick the theme and colors, starting with the theme and then trying to find the right colors. Sometimes, my theme is not always visible, since they are from my memories or feelings, so this process always takes time to arrange my thoughts. Next, I make blueprints by roughly sketching the marks, lines, and embroidery. This step is important for me to decide on compositions and what kind of medium I use.
Then, I start painting on the canvas. I use acrylic paint with a lot of water. After I paint, I need to let them sit for 24 hours until it completely dries.I add some marks and lines on my painted canvas with pigment sticks, graphite and sometimes powdered natural pigments. After this process, I also work on the embroidery rough copy. Adding the embroidery takes time, but it’s really fun! When I stitch on canvas, I’m completely absorbed in embroidery for several hours.
Next, I spray the varnish. I use a lot of different kinds of mediums, so I usually use spray to avoid any smudging and protect my artworks from deteriorating. Once the paintings are complete, I place them in floater frames and attach wire to the back. After the entire process, I write the title of the piece and add my signature.
CB: What are some of your preferred mediums and techniques, and what draws you to them?
Asami Nakamura: I enjoy giving a sense of three-dimensionality to my paintings using thread. When embroidering, I strive not only for the embroidery to stand out but also to blend naturally with the artwork. When I was struggling with my own artistic expression, I was drawn to the beauty of fiber art. I wondered if I could incorporate some form of fiber into my paintings to explore new ways of expression. This led me to think about using thread, and that desire to experiment with thread became the catalyst for me to start embroidering.
CB: What was the inspiration behind your “Blue” series, and how do you generally choose themes for your works?
Asami Nakamura: For the “Blue” series, I was inspired by the winter sky, light blue colors of glaciers, and Japanese indigo blue. Blue is always my favorite color, and for the series, I wanted to express various kinds of blue. I select themes for my paintings based on the scenes, emotions, and experiences that have strongly resonated with me at different moments in time.
CB: How do you approach the use of color in your art, and what significance does it hold in your storytelling?
Asami Nakamura: When I start drawing a series, I choose the theme first. After deciding on the theme, I create or try out colors that match it. When the theme revolves around nature, I pick up colors by looking at images such as photographs and videos that capture its essence. In the case of intangible themes like emotions or experiences, the colors naturally come to mind by recalling the moment. Since it's often challenging to find the perfect color that matches the one I envision, I frequently mix and create colors myself to achieve the color that goes well with the theme.
CB: Could you share some challenges you've faced and how you've overcome them?
Asami Nakamura: Balancing work and raising a child is challenging. After giving birth, although I have many ideas and things I want to challenge as my body is recovering, it's difficult to find time for work because my daughter is still small. There's also a conflict of emotions, worrying about not spending enough time with my daughter when working. Until recently, I pushed myself to work late into the night after my daughter slept, causing concerns for my husband. I've realized that the time with my daughter is fleeting, and I can pursue my interests a bit later. I decided to value both work and childcare, appreciating each moment with my daughter. I've learned that stressing and being anxious not only affects my family but also interferes with my performance at work. So, I believe it's crucial not to push myself too hard.
CB: Can you share a personal experience where creating or viewing art had a profound impact on you?
Asami Nakamura: When I was in elementary school, I remember going to see an exhibition of Tsuguharu Fujita's paintings. I am still captivated by his worldview, color palette, and the melancholic atmosphere. While looking at his paintings, I remember feeling a profound sense of tranquility and, at the same time, being captivated by the use of colors in his artwork. I have never consciously tried to emulate or model my art after his paintings, but aspects like color usage may have been subtly influenced by his works.
CB: Looking ahead, are there any projects or upcoming works that we can look forward to?
Asami Nakamura:The next new series will have a Japanese theme. I stayed in Japan for a month this winter, visiting many places to absorb new Japanese perspectives and inspirations. It has been five years since I last went back to Japan. During this visit, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Kyoto. Throughout my stay, I was deeply impressed by the beautiful fusion of new and old elements in the cityscape and surroundings. I am looking forward to capturing this inspiration in my next series of paintings and look forward to sharing it with everyone.